Independent. And individual.

In winning the “best youth game”, “Rat King Entertainment" is the first company in Saxony-Anhalt to have been awarded the German Computer Game award.

Jana Reinhardt and Friedrich Hanisch develop indie games. Their company, "Rat King Entertainment", is based in the hub for entrepreneurs at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle (Saale). Their products have won several awards and have been shown at festivals. The developers want to help shape the industrial revolution 4.0 in Central Germany.

In winning the German Computer Game Award in the category of "Best Youth Game” with the game "TRI: Of Friendship and Madness", "Rat King Entertainment" has succeeded in making a name for itself in the German computer games industry. The two-man company from Halle (Saale) is the first ever winner to come from Saxony-Anhalt. "TRI" also won the prize in the category of "Best Indie Game 4 Kids" at the "Goldener Spatz” film festival in Central Germany. "TRI" is a first-person game in which the players have to catch a crazy fox with the help of magic triangles in a strange world of godlike figures. It is a “freestyle first-person 3D puzzle exploration adventure,” as the developers themselves describe it. “The game has an extremely well thought-out design and features numerous intelligent puzzles." Such was the verdict of the jury at the Computer Game Award.

Independent and individual

Jana Reinhardt and Friedrich Hanisch developed "TRI” over the space of three years. They met during their studies at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle. They studied multimedia VR design, developed several game prototypes whilst on their course and, after having “caught the bug”, attended a course for entrepreneurs after their studies. In 2011, the company "Rat King Entertainment" got off the ground. The creative environment in Halle, they both claim, is supporting them with their work; they have moved into an office in the Designhaus Halle, the centre for new business start-ups at the University of Art and Design.

They develop the stories for their games, the game design and the level design together, otherwise they share their tasks out: Jana Reinhardt is responsible for the graphics, Friedrich Hanisch for the programming.

Their products are considered to be indie games. "We don’t just take that to mean independent," says Friedrich Hanisch, "but also individual." That fits - after all, indie describes the realisation of ideas by individual developers on their own initiative and independently, from start to finish. Sometimes it also means having to make a go of things without financial support from a major publisher, however. The Halle-based entrepreneurs actually received a small advance from "Rising Star Games” for "TRI” who, in return for their support, gained the sales rights for a limited period of time together with a share of the proceeds from the sales. They did not gain the IP rights, however. Securing the financing, explain Reinhardt and Hanisch, isn’t always easy. After all, producing a prototype takes half a year to a whole year alone. They sell their computer games themselves, among others, on the "Steam" platform; "TRI", for example, is available there for 13 Euros.

The Sky Disc App

“Rat King" has already produced four big games and several smaller ones. A new project has recently been completed: the Bronze Sky app (Der Bronzene Himmel) has been created in cooperation with the film animation studio "Motionworks", a company which is also based in Halle. Its theme is the Sky Disk, the oldest-known artistic representation of the starry sky. Made from bronze and gold, it was buried some 3,600 years ago, but is now on display in the Museum of Archaeology in Halle. The app aims to introduce children and teenagers to the topic of history in a playful way by immersing them in the Bronze Age - and this is where "Rat King" has contributed in the form of a take-it-in-turns survival game.

Although the purpose of the company is entertainment, when it comes to its products, the transitions to edutainment are also fluid. In the form of a commissioned project, Reinhardt and Hanisch developed a game about biodiversity. For the Office for Political Education in Thuringia (Zentrale für politische Bildung Thüringen) meanwhile, a game is currently being developed to inform young people about elections. It is expected to be published in September. Their game "High Five Romance Race" - a fast-paced racing game in which two players steer their cars by giving each other high fives, and which not only requires rapid reactions but above all else team spirit - is often shown at exhibitions: in Leipzig and Berlin and twice at "Silbersalz", the Central German Science Festival which is held in Halle.

Paving the way for 4.0

Whenever possible, Jana Reinhardt and Friedrich Hanisch devote themselves to non-commercial projects. They were able to create their game "Solitune", an escapist and very personal art game, with the support of the Foundation for the Arts of Saxony-Anhalt (Kunststiftung Sachsen-Anhalt). The game was nominated for an award at the German A MAZE festival.

Jana Reinhardt tells us that the games developer scene in Saxony-Anhalt is still pretty small-scale. Yet it is developing into an industry of the future. Its technology-driven, interactive potential means that the games developers are pioneers in the use of virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed and extended reality. Gamification is also being applied as a tool and a production factor in other sectors of the economy, such as the automotive, health care and IT sectors as well as the world of research.

Jana Reinhardt and Friedrich Hanisch have co-founded the "Games & XR Central Germany" association (Games & XR Mitteldeutschland e. V.) to help advance digitalisation and the industrial revolution 4.0. Its goal is to participate actively in the structural development of the Central German region through networking, further training and the transfer of knowledge to other industries that are unrelated to computer games.

Author: Anja Falgowski

Saxony-Anhalt at gamescom for the first time!
    Where & When: 20 - 22 August 2019 in Cologne 
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